New £58m institute is on course to open in 2025, Queen’s University has revealed

ECIT will house over 550 experts at its Titanic Quarter site

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 12:34 pm
Professor Mark Lawler, Scott Rutherford, Professor Máire O'Neill, Finance Minister Conor Murphy MLA, Professor Chris Johnson, Dr Godfrey Gaston
Professor Mark Lawler, Scott Rutherford, Professor Máire O'Neill, Finance Minister Conor Murphy MLA, Professor Chris Johnson, Dr Godfrey Gaston

A new £58m Global Innovation Institute (GII) is on course to open in Belfast by 2025, Queen’s University has revealed.

The Institute is an expansion of Queen’s University’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) and will house more than 550 experts at its Titanic Quarter site.

The announcement was made during the Secure Connected Intelligence Summit 2022 at ECIT which is running from May 17 to 19.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Director of ECIT at Queen’s, Professor Maire O’Neill, said: “Over the last 10 years, Queen’s University has helped to put NI on the map for digital innovation. Over the next decade, we have ambitious plans as we begin our evolution to a Global Innovation Institute as part of the Belfast Region City Deal. This is a huge opportunity for the people of NI and all of our industry partners.

“The £58m investment will see an expansion of our existing ECIT building and we will have more than 550 researchers based at the Institute. This will be a mix of researchers who are already based at ECIT, as well as new posts and others who will be co-locating from a wide range of companies and external partners.

“This team of researchers will build on our core expertise across cyber security, advanced wireless technologies, data science/analytics. In a multi-disciplinary environment, our skilled workforce will include experts from many sectors who will be developing research in areas such as health data, agri-food and Fintech.

“I am delighted to be able to discuss our plans at this week’s conference with our key stakeholders – the international research community, industry leaders, government policy makers and start-ups and SMEs from around the world. It is these people who are key to our success and it is vital that we all continue to work together to continue developing cutting edge research and solutions to so many real world problems.”

Addressing the Summit, Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, explained: “This new £58m Global Innovation Institute is a significant boost to the local economy. The cutting edge innovation centre will create jobs and enhance our reputation as a centre of excellence. This project demonstrates how collaboration between Government, local councils, universities and industry can be transformative and bring greater prosperity and opportunities.”

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons, continued: “My Department’s 10X Economic Vision sets an ambition to see Northern Ireland amongst the most competitive and innovative small economies in the world. We have an incredibly rich heritage of innovation, and this innovation, including the multidisciplinary research which is strongly demonstrated here at ECIT, is key to Northern Ireland’s prosperity as it is a fundamental driver of productivity and competitiveness.

“I am pleased to note ECIT’s evolution in becoming the Global Innovation Institute, a £58m project funded under the Belfast Region City Deal and Queen’s University Belfast. The Global Innovation Institute will build on the capability that has been developed in ECIT through nearly £10m of funding from Invest NI which has, in turn, leveraged a further £68.5m in funding since 2010. As ECIT transitions and scales towards its new role as a GII, it will build on ECIT’s outstanding track record of partnering with industry to deliver innovation and economic impact. It will transform NI’s digital economy by substantially increasing both the volume and range of digital innovation taking place in key growth sectors within the region. GII will become a centre for local and global companies, entrepreneurs and researchers to come together in a multi-disciplinary innovation environment - a critical factor in achieving my Department’s 10X Economic Vision.”

Key speakers at the ECIT’s 11th Annual Summit were: Koen Gijsbers, former general manager of the NATO Communications and Information Agency, and Non-Executive director of Belfast-based IoT security specialist ANGOKA, Boakye Dankwa, cyber security specialist at Rolls-Royce Dr Howard Benn, VP Communications Research at Samsung Electronics R&D Institute and Professor Cathie Sudlow, director of British Heart Foundation Data Science Centre.

Some of the key companies in attendance were Rolls Royce, Samsung, Nokia, British Heart Foundation, ANGOKA, Sensata, Ampliphae.

Koen Gijsbers added: “Belfast is fast growing its reputation as a centre of excellence in the field of cyber security and I look forward to sharing my experiences in the international sphere in communications, cyber security and defence and to hearing from colleagues in industry and commerce.

“Cyber security is central to the successful development of the next generation of mobility, manufacturing, services and Smart Cities, and I am particularly proud to participate in this summit which brings together some of the greatest thinkers and innovators in the business.”

Under the Belfast Region City Deal, the UK and Northern Irish governments are funding the Deal with £170m going to Queen’s University to lead three innovation centres.